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Portland Trail Blazers at Washington Wizards Preview

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The Trail Blazers will try to bounce back from two straight road losses as they face the Wizards.

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Oklahoma City Thunder v Washington Wizards Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (10-5) at Washington Wizards (5-10)

Sunday, November 18 - 3:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Maurice Harkless (out), Seth Curry (out)
Wizards injuries: None
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Bullets Forever

The Portland Trail Blazers have come down to earth a little bit after two losses in a row. Losing is bad enough, but the Blazers weren’t all that competitive in either game. Most teams, even really good ones, go through ups and downs during a season. Still, these last two games have raised a few red flags. Improved play from the second unit and better defense compared to last year is what got Portland to quickly reach ten wins in the young season. Poor defense and lacking play from the subs brought back memories of last year and earned the Blazers two losses.

Washington has had a disappointing start to the season, losing nine out of their first 11 games. The Wizards have come around a bit lately, winning three out of four. They did lose their last time out though, 115-104 against the Brooklyn Nets.

Blazers fans will remember one of the Wizards’ few victories at the beginning of season, a 125-124 overtime win over the Blazers at Moda Center. Markieff Morris led Washington with an improbable 28 points, going 6 for 10 from deep.

What to watch for

  • Will either team play any defense? The Wizards give up 116.7 points per game, 2nd worst in the NBA. Portland currently sits in 8th place with 107.9 points per game. The last two games have been worse than that though, with Portland giving up 112 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves and 126 against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Blazers need a good defensive effort to restore confidence in this area. No better time than against the Wizards.
  • Balanced scoring from the Wizards. Seven players for the Wizards average double figures in scoring: Bradley Beal, John Wall, Dwight Howard, Kelly Oubre Jr., Jeff Green, Otto Porter Jr. and Markieff Morris. By comparison, the Blazers only have three: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. Wall and Beal are always threats to do some damage, but as Markieff Morris proved during the game between these two teams, Washington can get scoring from unexpected places if the Blazers aren’t careful.
  • Can the Blazers get production from the bench? The Portland bench is sitting in 5th place in the NBA in scoring with 38.6 points per game. However, that scoring has slowed down in recent games, especially looking at the 23 points the bench put up against the Lakers. A big night from the Blazers bench would go a long way towards allaying fears going forward. The Washington bench is 5th worst in the NBA, giving up 43.0 points per game. All of the ingredients are there for Portland’s bench to have a big night.

What they’re saying

Ben Standig of nbcsports.com reports that former Wizard Jarred Dudley thinks it might be time for Washington to deal either Bradley Beal, Otto Porter or John Wall:

Dudley sees the logic of moving at least one of those three players.

“I think they’ve had enough time, but they really haven’t (broken) through,” Dudley said. “I can see by the All-Star break or summer time one of these pieces moving. It’s going to be good for them. If it’s John, or Otto or Brad, one of them three, I think their next move is going to be good for both teams.”

Could Carmelo Anthony fit in Washington? Josh Vasconcellos of Wizard of Awes thinks he just might:

Anthony still has a skill set that can be used for the right team. His 3 point shot and his lack of fear to in clutch moments. That’s exactly what the Wizards need right now.

Have we seen the best of John Wall already? Markus Atkinson Sr. of Bullets Forever examines:

Last season was the first time in Wall’s career where he did not finish in the top seven in the league for fast break points per game. His average was a point and half less than his previous low. This season, in a relatively small sample size, he is averaging 4.0 fast break points per game. That’s the 12th-best average in the league but still considerably below his career norms. Washington’s poor rebounding and defensive issues could certainly account for some of those issues, but if this trend holds up, it doesn’t send a great sign for how he’ll age.